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Figure Skating's Popularity Decline In The US

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Philly2034, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    And I say the opposite! It is quite possible to revere Dick Button and understand his place in the history of figure skating without having him do live pbp figure skating commentary at which he no longer excels and is not a good use of his talents.
  2. mathgirl

    mathgirl New Member

    My 13-year-old daughter attended the Canadian championships with me for one of the days. She had attended Skate Canada with me last year too. Both times she said she enjoyed it a lot and she's willing to go to more events with me in the future. However, she has little interest in watching skating on TV or following the sport more closely. When I asked her why, she was brutally honest.

    She said that the sport seems really old-fashioned, especially the costumes. I can't help but agree. I don't understand why all the women wear those little skirts all the time. We both loved Gabrielle Daleman's costume (a full-length bodysuit) for her short program. Why aren't more women wearing costumes like that? Also, she complained that almost all the women used "sappy piano and violin" music for their programs, while the men and pairs had much more variety in their musical choices. She also said the scores are not always obvious (BTW, this is not a comment on the current scoring system, as she'd probably feel the same way about the old 6.0 system), unlike hockey where a puck in the net means a goal.

    Now this is coming from a kid who had taken several years of figure-skating lessons when she was younger, and who actually likes most of the "sappy" music she complained about. (She's a violinist and pianist herself and recognizes many of the popular classical pieces.) If she finds the scoring complicated, the costumes old-fashioned and the music boring, I really wonder what the average Canadian teen thinks of all this!

    My daughter also pointed out that no one her age recognizes any of the skaters. They're not celebrities. I can understand people on this board complaining that some Canadians overhype skaters like Chan and Osmond, but truly, I wish our media would hype the skaters more!
  3. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

    Double post
  4. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

    Well, ioana, I don't think Dick needs nor maybe even wants to do live blade-by-blade commentary anymore (but I bet he could still do a better job than those who are currently commentating on NBC). ;) And definitely there should still be a place for Dick, and his voice still needs to be heard as part of this sport. As far as Dick "unable to keep up" with what was happening on the ice, I personally think he was so far ahead of what was going on that sometimes his words tripped up on his tongue -- he's so enthusiastic and his brain works so fast. [Of course, Dick also suffered two head injuries as an adult.] Plus the broadcast format in later years was no longer as conducive to what Dick had to offer. As danceronice mentioned, it took Mary Carillo, a skating outsider, to actually figure out an entertaining way to utilize Dick's expertise and to create a unique way of informing the public about the sport during the 2006 Olympics.

    Despite ABC's generally staid, status quo and time-limited approach to the sport over the years, it was obvious that Dick possessed (and still possesses) a vast amount of knowledge. Barely able to contain himself at times, Dick would often make intriguing cultural and historical references. He's probably forgotten already more than any of us will ever know about figure skating. Yes, that was a different time and era when Dick first began covering the sport on television with Jim McKay. But if not Dick, then who? Dick is a wonderful pioneer of the sport as a broadcaster and as a skater (he invented the flying camel spin; landed the first 2-axel and the first ever triple loop in competition; won two Olympic gold medals; is the only non-European to win the European fs championships; and he was the first figure skater to win the Sullivan Award). If Maribel Vinson Owen had not died in 1961, I'm sure she too would have been instrumental in helping to bring the sport into the television age and in teaching the general public about the sport. But in the absence of Owen and others, Dick had the vision and the passion to excite a generation of young people who knew nothing about the sport, into becoming its greatest fans.

    IMHO, it ain't that Dick don't understand IJS, he just knows that it's an inadequate system rushed in too quickly. Here's a famous youtube clip with Dick from 2003:


    Forget the fact that the World Skating Federation never got off the ground. It was undermined before it was hastily started by lack of long term strategic thinking and planning, and by a lack of understanding re just how powerful are Cinquanta and the ISU. Dick has since softened his stance, at least publicly, as indeed all the big names who attempted to support the effort found it politically necessary to do. However, just listen to what Dick is saying, and get beyond any dislike you might have for the old 6.0. He's not saying that change within the sport was not needed, but simply that haphazard change and the kind of change that only creates additional problems, is never the solution.

    Quotable Quotes, or apt Buttonisms:

    It seems to me that these still very relevant viewpoints from Dick have been relegated to the dustbin of history, even despite the fact that hardcore fans (at least those not mesmerized by numbers mind games and won over by “macho quads”) are still vocal about the same views, even though its :wall:

    BTW, Dick’s #5 point quoted above IMO is at the root of the majority of problems in figure skating that we debate ad infinitum here on FSU.

    Truly what we are discussing in this thread is multi-layered and complex with no easy answers or resolutions. There have been lots of good suggestions. And I think the opportunity to see more lecture series of the type sponsored by Ice Theatre of New York would be beneficial.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
  5. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member


    kwanfan1818 and (deleted member) like this.
  6. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady Well-Known Member

    Yeah, if the job of the commentator is to tell a story of what's going on that people can enjoy and learn from, then an 83 year old Dick would be better. Sandra and Scott do not offer genius technical insights or make the sport more understandable; and usually, I believe most people consider them background noise. Dick just needs a partner who can follow the jump business without upstaging him, such as for example Peggy (or some technically sharp people who can whisper into Peggy's ear piece).
  7. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

    Yeah, but I don't think Dick doesn't "excel" at being able to inform viewers about figure skating and what is happening in today's programs, so much as he disagrees with the lack of foundation behind the creation of IJS, and he can see through all the PB wtf, GOE randomness, PCS manipulation, and anonymous scoring crap to the "dirty" underside. Dick is not fooled, and like many old-timers (despite his continuing enthusiasm for the sport), he's probably bored with seeing many of the same programs over and over again, not from the same skater, but the same programmatic spins and moves from different skaters, which often have nothing to do with the music they are skating to. Of course, there are still a lot of bright lights in this sport including skaters, coaches and choreographers who are doing their best to try and honor what the sport is about. But too often the going is tough ... it's like a minefield and a swamp combined.

    Any great programs that we see today such as Alexander Johnson's Tom Dickson choreographed program this season, anything Jeremy Abbott performs, and Dai Takahashi's great programs last season, exist in spite of IJS, not because IJS is so great. Any good judging that we so rarely see is in spite of IJS, not because of IJS. Obviously, the enforced CoP/ IJS is here to stay in all its constant readjustments and modifications. And sure there are some good things involved with IJS, but that's only due to the passion of coaches and of former skaters who were involved in trying to develop it to suit a beneficial purpose for the skaters, and not just to protect the judges and the sport's viability with the IOC (which was the ISU's main motivation).
  8. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

    Seriously. Give him any decent co-commentator and he'd be better than Scott and his groaning along with the jumps and Sandra's inanity. Heck, use Uncle Dick to phase in the younger generation. Almost anyone would be better than what we've got on US TV now.
  9. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member


  10. KCC

    KCC Well-Known Member

    I would like to see the actual score sheet/counter posted in a corner of the tv screen on taped performances. That quad jump was worth x points. That spin was worth y points. That would not be the total final score for the skate, but I think it would explain why technical scores are different between skaters. The downside, of course, is that focusing on the running score would be a huge distraction from watching the actual performance. And it would be impossible to do on a live performance. Maybe use it just for replays?
  11. lamarenee

    lamarenee Active Member

    Perhaps skating will become more popular with the general public when single and pairs skaters can do their programs to music with lyrics starting in the 2014-2015 season. I will miss a lot of the symphonic/balletic music that has been used over the years, but if it helps the sport, that would be a good thing. And costumes will have to become more contemporary to go with more modern programs.
  12. aims

    aims New Member

    PLEASE CHANGE THE TITLE !!! :eek: or the debate will be focused forever on the US figure skating popularity VS the rest of the world!
    And if there's another already existing thread that deals exclusively with the US scene as many have already indicated, this is a really such an irrelevant thread.
    Just saying.
  13. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

  14. Sylvia

    Sylvia Still recovering from Worlds...

    FYI, people who start threads only have 5 minutes to modify their own thread titles; after that, only a FSU moderator has the power to change a thread title (usually via private message request), and they don't have to do it if they don't feel it's necessary.
  15. merrywidow

    merrywidow Well-Known Member

    What is the relevance of these articles that are dated 2010? I haven't read all the pages in this thread & am curious as to what I've missed?
  16. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

    I rechecked, and I got my stats mixed up. I had looked up the viewership for the US figure skating championships, and that was what came in third in the 18-49 demo.

    The Vancouver Olympics did better, but not well in terms of past Olympic viewership:

    I and a couple others made the point that figure skating is skewed towards older audiences, and doesn't win the all-important 18-49 viewer demo. Manhn has been insisting it does, and that the Vancouver Olympics were more popular than ever. I think the stats indicate pretty clearly that isn't the case.

    The upshot of that being people are making suggestions for what figure skating should change, but all the suggested changes are really for people in the oldest viewer demographic, and that's neither a growing market nor an attractive viewership for advertising dollars. So doing things to appeal to older viewers rather misses the point that younger viewers just aren't into skating, and it's not because of lack of televised comps or confusion over IJS. They simply prefer other things given the choice.
  17. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    manhn didn't insist that it does: he said,

    which I think is quite different, and to refute this,

    he cited statistics specifically about the Men's competition.

  18. DarrellH

    DarrellH New Member

    All it takes is one seriously strong U.S. contender for the ladies' title to bring up the ratings here in the States.
  19. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

    His comment was in apparent reference to this claim by BR:
    Since hers was the only post to reference Olympic viewership, that's the only way manhn's post makes sense.

    And in that context, he's refuting the declining viewership of the Olympics. I posted stats indicating that viewership is indeed down--including Vancouver.
    I also cited stats regarding the men's competition. And the women's competition. On non-championship days, it lost out to other shows (namely American Idol). It won on championship days, but it didn't go up against the finale of American Idol on those days either.

    And overall, Olympic tv ratings aren't what they used to be--nowhere close.

    Someone asked what the ratings were for the US championships, and they were far worse. So even when you have dedicated prime time coverage, 18-49 yo are choosing to watch something else because they just don't find it that interesting. If you add some human drama ala Harding/Kerrigan, it will go up, but not otherwise.

    I really just don't understand why some think if people just saw it more, we'd have a mass following of skating fans. It's like some can't fathom that their interests may not have broad appeal, and it's not due to the ignorance of others.
  20. Paul

    Paul New Member

    A few things. First, focussing on the Olympics is really only a very small part of the story. Olympics are a unique event. Quite a few sports draw viewers during the Olympics and then disappear for 4 years. The strength of FS has been that it has not disappeared but was strong on its own. This is clearly fading in many parts of the world. And this means loss of money to the ISU and to federations. Second, I completely agalisgv's point that it simply is not appealing to younger demographics and this is a very discouraging trend. But it is old fashioned and rather incomprehensible. Third, I do not agree that a lady contender from the US will revive ratings in a material way. It may have a short term increase but it will not, in and to itself, reach a younger demographic and encourage new viewers. Look at the Canadian ratings. They were huge for the Olympics. Virtue/Moir were household names. Chan got tons of coverage. Yet after the games, despite both Virtue/Moir and Chan being world champions, TV numbers are sliding and I'm willing to bet, sliding very badly in the younger demographics. All people in FS need to recognize this trend and figure out that significant changes must be made to the sport and yes, the sport must be marketed (shock). Otherwise it will be a marginalized sport that gets a bit more attention in the Olympic years like so many other sports.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
  21. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

    I still refute that fewer Americans are watching the Olympics. From another article:


    Or another: http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/20...ost-watched-winter-olympics-in-history/43448/

    As for Canada (to keep the thread more "international"), isn't Canadian TV doing what a lot of people want? Complete (or almost complete) coverage of major skating events. Worlds has been complete since 2007. Skate Canada, even when it changed to CTV/TSN, has been complete since 2007. And live. Coverage of skaters at Nationals, while no longer complete, is more comprehensive than the beloved 90s. They have at least two major sponsors. Canada is at least competent in each discipline of the sport.
  22. Paul

    Paul New Member

    Yes, this is all true about coverage and yet the trend for numbers is down! So despite all of these positive factors, reining world champions, decent skaters in all disciplines, the viewership is decreasing and aging. And this in a winter sport country with a long history in FS. This is exactly why there should be great concern for the future. All the coverage and other factors aren't working. The sport is not doing well in Canada. As for the sponsors, yes two, but its first hard to conclude whether they are really major and second, they took a long time to find.
  23. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    It's completely possible to do this live. You'd show the planned content before the jump and the what the panel called it afterward. Sure, sometimes they review stuff and downgrade/upgrade/change levels. But the announcers could even say that when the final scores come up. Heck, you could show everything live -- the GOE input by the judges, the calls by the tech panel. Then what the final mark was after it was all reviewed and made final. I'm not sure you need *that* much detail but it's all technically doable.
  24. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

    A person attending an event in person tends to be the last to know anything judge or points related. See the family of Amelie Lacoste.
  25. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    If the data input from the tech panel is available to the broadcast team, then it would be possible to put up graphics based on what was called, i.e., the name of the element including the level, and whether or not it was flagged for review. And/or the commentators could say without guessing that the tech panel would be reviewing that element after the program and could offer a guess as to why.

    I don't think you could show the GOE input by the judges live. Sometimes a judge might not put in the GOE right away. There are several different reasons why they might need to wait till after the program to score a particular element, or might change the GOE after seeing the finalized tech panel calls after the reviews. So even if some of the judges scored the element in real time and the computer took the average and fed it to the broadcast team immediately, those scores would be temporary.
  26. tonyahardly

    tonyahardly Banned Member

    I hate to see what programs are going to be like once they start using lyrics. I can only imagine it will be so annoying with all that rap stuff.
  27. Iceman

    Iceman Well-Known Member

    I came across this video recently of Ashley's performance at the Japan Open. At the bottom of the screen when an element is done the name is given, the level and scores, i.e. the protocols. I wonder if this could be done live (I'm assuming this information was added later on this particular video). Of course, even this leaves one scratching his head at some of the scores given by the judges.

    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
  28. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    No, it would not be possible to post all those numbers in real time.

    All that would realistically be possible to post -- not during an element, but within a couple seconds afterward -- would be the name/code for the element with the level as applicable, and whether or not there was going to be a review. And maybe GOEs for the judges who got their marks for that element input within those few seconds.

    But all those numbers will be subject to change during that wait period after the program ends but before the scores are announced. For some programs there might be no changes. For others there might be so many, or a few of such significance, that the official score would look very different from what was put up on the screen during the program. So you risk confusing the audience even further by showing the unofficial preliminary numbers during the performance.

    However, for a tape-delayed broadcast, something like what you show would be very possible, using the finalized marks.
  29. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

    Ah, I think understand the problem. You're looking at raw numbers, while generally ratings are detailed as percentage of viewing audiences. Of course we have dramatically more people in the US now than before, so you'd expect higher raw numbers. But as a percentage of viewers, fewer are tuning in to the Olympics than before. And far fewer 18-49 yo are watching percentage-wise compared to older folk, and compared to Olympics from many years ago.
  30. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

    No. It is in Omaha. There is also a regional airport in Lincoln with commercial service, and airports with commuter service in other smaller cities in the state.

    The population of the state is around 1.85 million. The population of the Omaha metro area is a bit over 415,000.